Caterpillar touts automation solutions as top miners swing back to profit

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), the world's No.1 heavy machinery maker, is telling miners not to rest on their laurels now that the industry is finally coming back up from a brutal downturn that forced companies to cost cuts and close down operations.

In a presentation at the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration’s (SME) meeting 2017 this week, the Peoria, Illinois-based firm (soon to move to Chicago) showed how its Cat MineStar — a comprehensive suite of mining technology products aimed at increasing productivity and profit — can help firms reap even more benefits from the current recovery in commodity prices.

The world's No.1 heavy machinery maker is telling miners to stay focused on maximizing returns and efficiency even if the downturn seems to be over.

Cat’s automation tools contained in MineStar enable miners to configure technologies to fit their needs, providing everything from material tracking to sophisticated real-time fleet management, machine health systems, autonomous equipment systems and more.

The package of solutions, designed to support and maximize returns and efficiency of mining operations, has already been adopted in 220 sites across the globe, Cat said in the presentation. The majority of its users, it noted, are based in the Asia-Pacific region and North America, but the company sees huge opportunities in other markets such as South America and Europe, especially now that miners have begun climbing out of one of the industry's most severe slumps.

In the past 12 months, as sales were stalled, Caterpillar focused on developing ways to improve current equipment performance.

Together with increasing the presence of company representatives at mine sites, whose mission is to help operators make the most out of their acquisitions, Cat has been heavily investing in research and development of digital solutions, the firm’s President for Resource Industries, Denise Johnson, recently told MINING.com.

The goal, though seems counterintuitive, is to reduce the amount of mining equipment needed at operations. That means that during a downturn, such as the one that wrecked the industry lately, Cat would keep on thriving in terms of sales beyond those related to equipment.

Now that many are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the company said it would continue to work on bringing mining customers improved operational decision-making capabilities.

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